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Burke's Law is a detective series which ran on ABC from 1963 to 1965 and was revived on CBS in the 1990s. The show starred Gene Barry as Amos Burke, millionaire Los Angelesmarker Chief of Detectives, who was chauffeured around to solve crimes in his Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II.


There were stylistic similarities to Barry's previous series, Bat Masterson, in which he had played the debonair dandy Bat Masterson in the Old West. During the opening credits, as the title flashed onscreen, a woman's voice was heard seductively pronouncing the words "It's Burke's Law!" The title also reflected the character Burke's habit of dispensing wisdom to his underlings in a professorial manner, e.g. "Never ask a question unless you already know the answer. Burke's Law."

The title of each episode started with the words "Who Killed...?" with the name or description of the victim (who inevitably died in the show's opening minutes) completing it.

In the original series, other characters were Detective Tim Tilson (Gary Conway), Detective Les Hart (Regis Toomey), Sergeant Ames (Eileen O'Neill), and chauffeur Henry (Leon Lontoc). Tilson was a go-getting young man whose skill at finding clues and trace references didn't result in his solving the murders, being always outflanked by Burke's cool intuition.

The guest appearance of Anne Francis as female detective Honey West led to a short-lived spin-off series.


The musical score for Burke's Law was largely the work of Herschel Burke Gilbert, whose middle name was coincidentally the same as the character of the series.


The role of Amos Burke actually predated Barry's series, having been played by Dick Powell on the initial episode of The Dick Powell Show in September 1961. The first incarnation of the series was produced by Powell's company, Four Star Television.

In the final season of the original series (1965–1966), the show was given a complete overhaul and retitled Amos Burke, Secret Agent. Burke went to work for a secret government agency, but still drove around in his Rolls, which had been discreetly bulletproofed by the agency. The supporting cast of the earlier seasons was dropped. The change in format was a reaction to the wildly popular spy trend inspired by the James Bond films. (That year also saw the debut of I Spy, The Wild Wild West, and Get Smart.) The new show was not a success and only seventeen episodes were broadcast instead of the thirty-two of the first two seasons.


Peter and Amos Burke.
In the revival of the show, which ran on CBS from 1994-1995 and produced by Aaron Spelling's production company, the title again became "Burke's Law" and Burke was back at work as a police detective. In the second incarnation, Burke was assisted by his son, Peter (Peter Barton). The revival, even more than the original program, was widely regarded as being largely camp.

The nostalgic revival featured guest appearances by many of Barry's peers from the 1960s Spy-fi genre, including Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible) and Anne Francis reprising Honey West (albeit renamed "Honey Best", for legal reasons).

DVD releases

VCI Entertainment has released Season 1 of Burke's Law on DVD.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1, Volume 1 16 April 29 2008
Season 1, Volume 2 16 November 18 2008

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